Wednesday, July 22, 2009

On Individuation & Acting

Like the business itself, breaking into showbiz requires a good deal of smoke and mirrors--things are never really what they seem. To be candid, there are times that I question why and what I am doing. I got into Improv simply for the "psychological" benefit of getting out of my head and allowing the extrovert to come out and play. The notion that I should allow the more dominant Jeff Goldblum, scientist side of myself ride in the passenger's seat isn't one I wish to encourage.

I believe it is rewarding, short term and long term, to invoke our darker, less conscious side. Many a famous film has given us a fictitious account of this in the form of a vampire, an alter ego or even an animal. That said, and I iterate, the conscious person that I have become must maintain control during the day, figuratively and literally. Integration and individuation is key...but it is a hard and uncertain business in which there are no templates, blueprints or recipes.

I will leave you with a long but useful analogy to this concept by the master, June Singer:

...[Individuation is] something like being in a sailing boat on the lake and utilizing the wind, understanding that the wind is something that you don't make and you can't control. But you need to understand how to live your life in the same way that you understand how you would sail a boat, taking the power of the wind and going with it and allowing your own knowledge of it and your understanding of it to help you go in the direction that you need to be headed. And so in Jungian analysis you learn how to deal with your own power, or rather the power that comes through you, and live your life in such a way that it's harmonious with that power which is above and beyond and all around.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

On Completeness

The psychological rule says that when an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside, as fate. That is to say, when the individual remains undivided and does not become conscious of his inner opposite, the world must perforce act out the conflict and be torn into opposing halves. --Jung, Aion, par.126

John Stuart Mill, one of the most influential thinkers of modern western democracy and contemporary education, realized this division at the age of twenty in the form of a nervous breakdown. Raised on the knees of an estimable father and the great Jeremy Bentham he would go on to confess in his Autobiography that the importance given to intellectual development was so out of balance that the development for normal childhood feelings or affections was sacrificed. After immersing himself into romantic poems and prose of his day he began to experience a healing effervescence of emotions. Conclusively, this wholeness, was the key to freeing him from his deep depression. (cf. Autobiography by John Stuart Mill, ch. 5)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Pattern Recognition Vs. Perceived Value

Figure 3 is actually the same object as Figure 2 rather it is being viewed as if you were to turn the object 90 degrees to the right (from a 3D perspective). The 3rd figure does not appear to have as much in common with the previous due to the observer's attempt to recognize a pattern.

One application I get from this is in regards to the perceived value of people, products, services, etc, in the marketplace and beyond. Perceived value is essential to economic drivers in the stock market, banking institutions and many other entities. What I find to be more troubling is the pernicious impact it has on people, e.g. their confidence, self-esteem, rage, depression, etc. Guess there will likely be a magnificent pendulum swing in the opposite direction toward fear, skepticism and cynicism.

It's only natural to react after getting it wrong. Sometimes, however, it is important to take a step back and recognize what mistakes were made. Regardless, in the end, it is important that one be able to keep on going.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Intentionality|What Part Do You Play, Part 1

Have you ever asked yourself, "What is society?" Have you ever been really excited by a protest or saddened about a news story. What we refer to as society is not tangible or physical and yet is undeniably real. We all contribute to society in some way or another and often think very little of it. If everyone in our society lost the ability to aquire any sense data (taste, touch, smell, sound, sight) would the reality, as we know it socially, cease to exist.

First let's consider the notion of social. Something is social when meaning is agreed upon by at least two people. Therefore, meaning is shared and as such language is an artificial byproduct of a more natural experience common to many or at least two people. In this there is much that I borrow about language and meaning from Reid, Wittgenstein and Searle.

Now let's narrow the concept from between two people to the individual. In other words, what kind of negotiations or transactions are going on in the mind of either of the individuals. Hopefully this simplifies matters. We will eventually build from individual reality back to social reality--I realize that the existence of other realities and even heterogeneous realities is arguable but indulge me--this is a sandcastle afterall.

So, reality for the individual. Thoughts, feelings and desires are voluntary but like blinking an eye, breathing or swallowing we usually manifest them with an auto-pilot efficiency. This is not to be confused with what has come to be called involuntary actions, e.g. digestion, hair growth, blood circulation. It is an odd feature of the individual that some things can be controlled while others occur whether we think and/or desire them or not. For the moment I propose that reality for the individual comes in both flavors, voluntary and involuntary, and as such it astounds me that I can ever find my car keys (well, at least sometimes I find them).

From the notion that reality for an individual exists in at least two forms of activities I would like to consider that voluntary is nearly the same as intentional. Thus, the other consideration of the involuntary being unintentional and for my purposes will not be discussed further. That said, I do happen to think that unintentional states have a troubling consequence on an individual's reality.

It would be a shame to consider intentionality without first considering Anscombe's implication of direction of fit. This briefly establishes belief (cognition) and desire (conation) so have a gander:

Intention (1957) is also the classic source for the idea that there is a difference in 'direction of fit' between cognitive states like beliefs and conative states like desire. (This theme is later taken up and discussed by Searle in Intentionality (1983)). Cognitive states describe the world and are causally derived from the facts or objects they depict. Conative states do not describe the world, but aim to bring something about in the world. Anscombe used the example of a shopping list to illustrate the difference (see Intention (1957), par.32). The list can be a straightforward observational report of what is actually bought (thereby acting like a cognitive state), or it can function as a conative state such as a command or desire, dictating what the agent should buy. If the agent fails to buy what is listed, we do not say that the list is untrue or incorrect; we say that the mistake is in the action, not the belief. According to Anscombe, this difference in direction of fit is a major difference between speculative knowledge (theoretical, empirical knowledge) and practical knowledge (knowledge of actions and morals). Whereas 'speculative knowledge' is 'derived from the objects known', practical knowledge is--in a phrase Anscombe lifts from Aquinas--'the cause of what it understands' (see Intention (1957), par.87).

That's all for the moment. In the next post I hope to develop an application of intentionality by considering Kolbe's theory of conative modes. The basic concept being that individuals each have a conative style that can be seen in their actions.